Some Safe Alternatives to Toxic Household Cleaners
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Dangers of chemical exposure are all around us, all the time. Without even realizing it, we are constantly coming into contact with them through the air we breath, the toiletries/beauty products we put on our bodies (try this great EASY DIY hand lotion!), and through household cleaning products we breath in and that are absorbed into our skin.
My original intent with this post was to round up a list of the most common toxic chemical cleaners in our homes today, and give some suggestions on some non-toxic alternatives to use in their place. So I went to the CDC’s (Center for Disease Control) website to see what they had to say on the use of chemicals and our exposure to them, and I started reading some pretty scary stuff.
From the toxic off-gassing from the mattress we sleep on, to the toxic compounds we breathe in from the plastic shower curtain liner, to the food we eat that has been sprayed with pesticides, we are continuously bombarded with exposure to chemicals on a daily basis. Chemical overload is everywhere.
We can’t get away from it all (and we would make ourselves crazy trying), but what we can do is try our best to eliminate as many of the toxins from our homes as possible.
And a good place to start is with what’s under the kitchen sink and in the cleaning closet.
Many of the ingredients in store-bought household cleaners are never tested for safety. Even worse, there are almost no laws that require manufacturers to warn people of possible hazards of the chemicals in cleaning products. And to top it off, there are no federal regulations regarding chemicals in household cleaners. These are the toxins most people (especially women and moms) are exposed to every.single.day in their homes.
Take a look at the multi-purpose cleaner under your kitchen sink. You’ll probably see a label warning you to not ingest it. Yet we happily spray it on our counter tops and cutting boards to sanitize them. But when the water evaporates from the surface, we’re left with a layer of toxic chemical film that we don’t even realize is there. The next time we use the cutting board, we unknowingly lay our fresh food on this toxic layer of chemicals, and go on to eat the freshly cut food that is now coated in chemicals.
Before we decide to kick chemical cleaners out of our homes forever, we need to realize what they are doing to every system of our body.
Constant exposure to chemicals has a negative effect on every system of the body – the immune system, respiratory system, renal system, reproductive system, and the nervous system, to name a few.
- The job of the immune system is to protect the body from pollutants in the environment, as well as viruses and bacteria. Repeated exposure to toxic chemicals lowers the immune system’s ability to function how it should, leaving us more susceptible to allergies and illnesses.
- The respiratory system‘s job is to supply oxygen to the blood. It also removes carbon dioxide from the body. When the respiratory system is damaged from chemical exposure, it can lead to asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, lowered oxygen supply in the blood, and lung cancer.
- The renal system rids the body of waste and regulates salt and fluid levels in the body. Chemical exposure wreaks havoc on kidney function, lowers the body’s ability to eliminate toxins, and can even cause kidney cancer.
- The reproductive system allows the body to be able to reproduce. The effects of too much chemical exposure can be devastating to the reproductive system. It can cause birth defects, lower the possibility of becoming pregnant, and can ultimately cause infertility.
- The nervous system is what sends messages from one part of the body to another. Adverse effects to toxins on the nervous system can be debilitating – it can cause confusion, slurred speech, blurry sight, memory loss, decreased muscle strength and loss of feeling.
Fortunately there are precautions we can take to reduce the amount of chemicals we come in contact with on a daily basis, especially in our homes – like choosing to clean withánatural cleaners, instead of bleach and ammonia.
Here are some safe alternatives to replace the chemical cleaners in your home:
- Vinegar – It doesn’t smell pretty, but vinegar makes for a great cleaner! Use it to spray down your sinks, showers & toilets. Let it sit for a few minutes, scrub and wipe down.
- Baking soda – Baking soda is perfect for soaking up odors and makes scrubbing easier. Sprinkle in the bottom of the shower to help break up the soap scum build up. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to a 4 ounce Ball jar with 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil for a natural air freshener and to help eliminate odors.
- Hydrogen peroxide – Hydrogen peroxide is a little known, underrated natural disinfectant. It has 100’s of uses from laundry, window cleaner and deodorizer, to hard surface sanitizer and wound care. Use to wipe down sinks, counters, toilet seats and door knobs as a natural disinfectant, and as a natural mirror and window cleaner. It also comes in a spray bottle to make cleaning and sanitizing easier.
- Essential oils – People are really starting to see the benefits of cleaning with essential oils. They’re highly concentrated and very effective at cleaning and deodorizing. For an all natural multi-purpose cleaner, fill a glass spray bottle with 2/3 water, 1/3 vinegar and 30 drops of essential oil (Thieves, Tea Tree and lemon essential oils make for a GREAT multi-purpose cleaner!). Shake to mix, and use on windows/mirrors, as a degreaser, and multipurpose cleaner.
Whether in our homes or in the environment outside, some chemical exposure is unavoidable. If we spend too much time thinking of all of the toxins we are exposed to every day and the effects they have on how our body functions, we would probably drive ourselves crazy.
Being aware of the toll chemical household cleaners have on our body and taking precautions to limit the exposure we have to them in our homes is a step in the right direction.